Bill offered to permit OCS leasing off Virginia

Nick Snow
OGJ Washington Editor

WASHINGTON, DC, July 7 -- Both US senators from Virginia introduced legislation to allow oil and gas exploration off that state. The measure also would expand the federal government’s map of the mid-Atlantic exploration area to more accurately reflect the extent of Virginia’s resources, they said July 6 in a joint statement.

Sens. James A. Webb and Mark R. Warner, both Democrats, said their bill improves on a House-passed measure by directing half of any federal revenue from leases off Virginia to be paid to the state for land and water conservation, clean energy resource development, transportation, and other infrastructure improvements.

Warner said the bill would jump-start a multiyear process that would include responsible environmental reviews, close consultations with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and US military services with installations in the Norfolk-Hampton Roads area, and multiple public hearings.

Webb and Warner’s bill would direct the US Department of the Interior to include OCS Lease Sale 220, which Interior Sec. Ken Salazar canceled in 2010 following the Macondo well accident and oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, in the federal government’s 2012-17 Outer Continental Shelf leasing program. DOI also would be required to revise its Mid-Atlantic OCS administrative map to more accurately and equitably reflect resources off the state’s coast, and to include those resources in the 5-year program, the senators said.

The bill also would direct the US Treasury to assign 37.5% of the revenue derived from federal leases off Virginia to the state, and direct the president to assign another 12.5% of the revenue to land and water conservation efforts, public transportation projects, and alternative energy development projects in the state, the senators said.

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